Cherokee Nation Offers Free Musuem Visits during Native American Heritage Month

Cherokee Supreme Court

Cherokee Supreme Court

Published October 30, 2015

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA – Cherokee Nation officials are celebrating Native American Heritage Month by offering free museum admission throughout the month of November.

Cherokee Nation museums include the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum, the Cherokee National Prison Museum and the John Ross Museum.

President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994.

The John Ross Museum highlights the life of John Ross, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation for more than 38 years, and houses exhibits and interactive displays on the Trail of Tears, Civil War, Cherokee Golden Age and Cherokee Nation’s passion for the education of its people.

While visiting the John Ross Museum, guests can celebrate the wedding anniversary of the Principal Chief and his wife, Mary, who married in 1844. The special exhibit showcases their love story through a series of letters to one another from the early days of their relationship throughout their marriage until Mary’s death in 1866. It runs through Dec. 31.

Originally built in 1844, the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum is Oklahoma’s oldest public building. The 1,950-square-foot museum features exhibits in three historic aspects: the Cherokee National Judicial System, the Cherokee Advocate and Cherokee Phoenix newspapers, and the Cherokee language, with a variety of historical items, including photos, stories, objects and furniture.

The Cherokee National Prison was the only penitentiary building in Indian Territory from 1875 to 1901. It housed sentenced and accused prisoners from throughout the territory. Built of sandstone rock, the prison was made to hold the most hardened and dangerous prisoners. The interpretive site and museum show visitors how law and order operated in Indian Territory. The historic site features a working blacksmith area and reconstructed gallows. Today’s museum offers an interactive kiosk to learn stories of notorious Cherokees and how they were perceived as outlaws in the Cherokee Nation, while others were revered as patriots.

The Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum is located at 122 E. Keetoowah St., and the Cherokee National Prison Museum is at 124 E. Choctaw St., both in Tahlequah. The John Ross Museum is located at 22366 S. 530 Rd. in Park Hill.

Also throughout November, those interested in the history of code talkers may visit the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center to learn more about the important role Native Americans played in World Wars I and II.

The exhibit highlights Cherokees, Choctaws, Comanches, Navajos and other tribesmen who served in the military as code talkers. It also discusses their current recognition by the U.S. government and Hollywood.

The Cherokee Nation Veterans Center is part of the W.W. Keeler Complex, located at 17675 S. Muskogee Rd.

For information on Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism, including museum operations, please call (877) 779-6977 or visit

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